Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Bush vs. Congress on pork-laden Iraq spending bill

From Dick Morris:
Democrats in Congress are heading into a game of chicken with the Bush White House akin to the Gingrich-Clinton government shutdown battle of 1995-96. The roles are reversed this time - so the Republicans are likely to prevail.

The consequences will be lasting. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will find their party shattered. Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will be forced to choose sides in their party's schism.

The game will unfold predictably. The House and the Senate will compromise on the differences in their legislation funding the Iraq War; the end product, carrying poison-pill language that sets a deadline for troop withdrawal, will go to the White House to face an inevitable presidential veto. The Democrats' override attempt will fail - and a deadlock will ensue.

Then the Democrats will threaten to withhold funding for the war in Iraq unless the White House agrees to some form of deadline. The Bush administration will reply that it will never agree to a schedule for troop withdrawal - and both sides will glare at the other across an abyss.

But Bush will, inevitably, win the game of chicken. Pelosi and Reid have too much sense to be caught denying funding to troops in combat. Bush will make the price of obstinacy too great for the Democrats to bear.

Nobody will want to be in the position of cutting off funding and appearing to undermine the troops during a war.

But the consequences for Pelosi of a retreat will be serious: She'll leave behind her the party's left - who will never vote for funding without also mandating withdrawal. Pelosi will have to scramble and craft a majority with a combination of Republican votes and support from the center of her own party.

The speaker will probably wind up having to vote against the majority of her Democratic members. That spectacle won't be healthy for her future authority or control.

If the Republicans are smart, they will let Pelosi hang by her own rope and will force her to break her party apart by twisting arms for every last vote to pass a funding bill.
The left will not forgive a vote to fund the war without requiring a withdrawal date - but the general electorate will not look kindly on pulling back funds during a war.

For his part, President Bush needs to stand firm as this process unfolds. The split the funding resolution will catalyze in the Democratic Party may be his party's only hope of hanging onto the White House in 2008. He should resist calls for compromise, since any halfway solution or diplomatic wording that could appeal to both sides will rescue the Democrats from the horns of their dilemma - and run most or all of the risks for the troops and the mission in Iraq as the current bills present.

Bush should demand a clean appropriations bill or guarantee a veto. If he doesn't flinch and congressional Republicans don't defect, it will be bad news for the Democrats.

This is a rather rosy assessment by Morris that makes what I believe to be a very faulty assumption. The assumption is that if the Dem Congress sends Bush a pork-laden Iraq appropriations bill and Bush vetoes it, the Dems in Congress would look bad. With the MSM on the Dems' side? Pfffft! Puh-leeeeze!

I recall the government shutdown of 1995-96 quite well. Bubba's approval ratings were quite low before the shutdown, as evidenced by his party's monumental and wholesale electoral #sskicking in November '94. The new GOP Congress sent Bubba a budget that slashed federal spending on a plethora of wasteful (and unconstitutional) programs. The GOP banked on Bubba signing the bill to avoid risking the government shutdown, and since his approval ratings were already low, surely he'd sign it. They bet on the wrong horse.

Bubba got in front of his sycophants in the media and blamed the mean ol' GOP for wanting to shut down the government because he wouldn't let them starve kids and kick old people in the streets. Only a boob would believe that was the GOP's desires, but fortunately for Bubba, many a leftist boob work in the MSM. Bubba and the MSM successfully demonized the GOP Congress for shutting down the government, Bubba's approval ratings rebounded, and he went on to win a decisive re-election effort.

Shoe's on the other foot now. We have a Republican president and a Democrat Congress threatening a train wreck. Who would the MSM demonize? Morris seems to think it will be the Dems who get demonized. I'd like to think he's right on this, but I don't. The MSM is just too freakin' slanted to allow Mistress Nancy and Harry "Land Shark" Reid, not to mention Shrillary and Osamabama, to take a big hit on this. The headlines would read "Bush denies Iraq soldiers funds, food, weapons".

Miss dhimmi in Syria, but Mistress Chicken in D.C.!

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